This column is part of Globe Careers' Leadership Lab series, where executives and experts share their views and advice about leadership and management. Follow us at @Globe_Careers. Find all Leadership Lab stories at tgam.ca/leadershiplab
Is there anything I can do for you?
When I was young, my grandmother told me I had been given the gift of influence and it was my responsibility to use it wisely. Later, she went even further: whatever I did with my wisely-used influence would be her legacy.
It's a message I have taken to heart, and I am determined to use whatever influence I have – not only to offer my help, but also to ask for help, because I believe that offering and asking are two sides of the same coin that will get you the best results.
Years ago, I made it a habit to try to ask people with whom I worked or connected if there was anything I could do for them.
I had reached a point in my career where I was well positioned to offer advice, resources and connections that could benefit others – some of whom were too shy to ask. In response, I was sometimes asked – as a mentor, a consultant, a friend – to call someone or do something to accelerate progress. That's because the question is an enabler. Even for those who don't have an immediate need for help, the question gets them thinking and lets them know that I am a person they can call on in future.
Over time, however, as I continued to offer to help, I got out of the habit of asking others for help. It's not like I don't know how to ask for something – as the leader of an organization that includes responsibility for business development (also known as sales), I do a lot of asking. But I was reminded of the benefits of asking for help during a series of presentations I attended recently, all of which concluded with the phrase, "So my ask of you is…"
This request is just as empowering as asking "Is there anything I can do for you?" because it also gets people thinking – and it gets things moving along.
So whether you're a leader or a follower, a mentor or a mentee, here are my asks of you:
Don't just transport your body to work, bring your energy, creativity and intellect. Challenge your leaders and contribute ideas – and don't be discouraged if they don't all get picked up. Stay involved and stay in the game.
Be a team player
Some days the team will need you to lead and some days it will need you to make a coffee run. Some days it will need you to find the energy to stay late when the game or the deal runs into overtime. Some days you will have to assist and some days you get to score. And sometimes you'll be playing defence which, as every sports fan knows, you need if you're going to win the game. If you joined the team, play your part and go where you are needed.
When you were young you shared your toys, and when you were in school you shared your notes. Now it's time to share your knowledge and contacts.
Whoever said knowledge is power was right – but the real power is in sharing your knowledge, not keeping it a secret so you are the only one who has the answer to a question that may never get asked of you. By sharing, you'll not only lift the team by accelerating their learning, you will also get to your own goal much more quickly than planned.
And remember, if there's anything I can do for you, just ask!
Colleen Albiston (@clalbiston) is the chief marketing officer at Deloitte Canada (@DeloitteCanada), a professional services firms that provides audit, tax, consulting, and financial advisory services.